CLEVELAND — With the game’s outcome in doubt and Cleveland’s season in serious danger, the Browns turned to their most reliable player.
Nick Chubb came through as always.
“We needed him and he showed up,” said Browns cornerback Denzel Ward.
Chubb caught a touchdown pass, rushed for 130 yards and helped run out the clock as the Browns held on to avoid a season-wrecking upset and keep Detroit winless with a sloppy 13-10 victory over the Lions on Sunday.
Chubb returned to Cleveland’s lineup after a one-game absence due to COVID-19. The star running back had a a 5-yard TD reception from Baker Mayfield and then helped the Browns (6-5) put away the Lions (0-9-1).
Leading by 3, the Browns got the ball back with 2:29 left. As the FirstEnergy Stadium crowd chanted “Chubb, Chubb” before every snap, coach Kevin Stefanski had Mayfield hand off the ball to one of the NFL’s best backs.
Chubb ripped off runs of 3, 4, 11 and 15 yards to ice it.
“Everybody was chanting Chubb’s name at the end,” Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett. said. “I was definitely cheering for my guy.”
Wide receiver Jarvis Landry also scored as the Browns barely bounced back after being blown out by 38 points last week at New England.
The Lions (0-9-1) couldn’t build off any momentum from their 16-16 tie a week ago in Pittsburgh and made some critical mistakes while growing their winless streak to 14 games. They are the league’s only winless team.
“Nobody likes to lose,” said Lions running back D’Andre Swift, who finished with a career-high 136 yards. “We want to win, so it’s frustrating.”
Swift broke off a 57-yard TD run in the second half to keep the Lions close.
Kicker Aldrick Rosas made a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to pull Detroit within 13-10. However, the Lions’ offense couldn’t come up with one more big play, and coach Dan Campbell decided to punt with 2:36 left, denying his team a last chance.
“I thought we’d get the ball back,” Campbell said. “I’m sure there are people who consider me too conservative, but you’ve got to be careful and you’ve got to be smart. We’re trying to win games 14-13 or 16-13.”
The Lions played without starting quarterback Jared Goff, who injured his oblique against the Steelers. Tim Boyle finished 15 of 23 for 77 yards with two interceptions in his first NFL start.
Mayfield was limited in practice this week with shoulder, foot and knee injuries, and said he is more “beat up” than at any point in his career. He threw a first-half interception and had other issues in wet conditions before connecting with Chubb late in the second quarter.
Mayfield finished 15 of 29 for 176 yards and two interceptions.
When the game ended, Mayfield pulled off his helmet and headed straight to the locker room without shaking hands with any teammates or Lions players, an unusual reaction following a tough win.
Mayfield declined to speak with reporters following the game for the first time in his four seasons with Cleveland.
Landry’s 16-yard scoring run came on a gadget formation to open the second quarter. The Browns were determined to get Landry more touches, and the sure-handed receiver moved behind center with Mayfield shifting right. Landry took the snap and rolled left looking to throw back to his right.
With nobody open, Landry tucked the ball and sprinted up the middle for his second rushing TD this season.
The Browns took a two-TD lead late in the half with help from the Lions, who committed three penalties — two by cornerback Amani Oruwariye — on a 76-yard scoring drive capped by Chubb’s TD.
Boyle came in with just four career pass attempts. Goff didn’t practice this week and his status remains uncertain for Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against Chicago.
The weather conditions were hardly optimal, but Mayfield was off the target on some throws he probably should have completed.
There was more than a smattering of boos after his second pick early in the fourth quarter and following a third-down incompletion.
“Baker has done a really, really good job at taking care of the football in terms of interceptions, and he knows that we do not want to give them anything,” Stefanski said. “I’m sure he’s frustrated with those, but he has done a nice job this season.”
The Lions had intended to use kicker Riley Patterson, signed earlier this week off New England’s practice squad. However, he was inactive and Rosas, a Pro Bowler in 2018 with the New York Giants, made his field goal and an extra point.
Earlier this week, Detroit released Ryan Santoso, who missed two kicks, including a potential winner against the Steelers. The Lions have been juggling kickers since training camp. Regular kicker Austin Siebert is on injured reserve with a hip issue.
Lions: Starting G Halapoulivaati Vaitai went out with a concussion in the second quarter. ... Da’Shawn Hand (groin) got hurt in the third quarter. ... Center Evan Brown left for several plays with an unspecified injury.
Browns: Landry appeared to aggravate the left knee injury that landed him on injured reserve. ... LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah went out in the second half with an ankle injury.
Lions: host Chicago in their traditional Turkey Day game.
Browns: visit Baltimore on Sunday night for the first of two games in three weeks against the AFC North-leading Ravens.
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